Veere - Netherlands
Veere is situated on the now land-locked island of Walcheren in the south-western Netherlands. Its small and picturesque harbour once provided direct access to the North Seam making Veere an important and accessible trade hub. Its importance was reflected in its architecture: strong fortifications, the impressive Grote Kerk, and a fine town hall being the most conspicuous expressions of significance. Veere was once the centre of the profitable wool trade between Scotland and the Low Countries. After considerable effort the town won staple-rights on Scottish wool in 1541, meaning that the goods had to be made available for purchase there for a set time before being allowed to go on sale elsewhere. This important and profitable trade right encourage Scottish merchants to establish themselves in Veere permanently.
The Scottish community in Veere enjoyed special privileges, including its own church, accommodation, tax exemptions and a degree of autonomy. It was governed by their own Lord Conservator based at the House of the Scottish nation, which also incorporated a hotel and tavern selling tax-free beer! Scots even had priority rights on berths in the harbour. The “Scottish Houses” they built were grand affairs, incoporating offices and warehouses as well as living space, and Scots were required to be well dressed and presented. The strength of the Scotland-Veere connection is clear from the marriage of Mary Stuart, daughter of James I, to the Lord of Veere in 1444. Mary is buried in the Grote Kerk.
The wool staple came to an abrupt end when the Dutch Republic was overthrown during the Napoleonic Wars. Nevertheless, the Scots connection is not forgotten in Veere, where two Scottish Houses have been converted into a museum. Appropriately enough, in November 1944 it was the 52nd (Lowland) Division of Scotland that liberated Veere during the Second World War, and a monument was erected in 1998 to commemorate the event.
Since 1998, links between Veere and Scotland have been actively maintained by the Scotland-Veere Organisation (www.veere-schotland.nl).
The Veere Stitchers
Back row: Anneke van der Vossen, Tineke Nieuwenhuyse, Riek Looij
Middle row: Ineke van der Gruiter, Ellen Rijkse, Ilse Loos, Diny Louwerse, Sylvia van Dam Merrett
Front row: Leintje van Belzen, Maxi Joustra, Machlien Neve, Els Bisschop